Heating Up: How Much Better Will the 49ers Red Zone Offense Be?

Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann

When asking the question how does an NFL team win a game, the obvious answer is to outscore your opponent. While, yes, that is the answer, how you outscore your opponent is by creating many opportunities to outscore your opponent.

For example, the New Orleans Saints were 13-3 last season and one bad call away from the Super Bowl last season. They were number one in the NFL last season with 212 plays in the red zone, not counting the playoffs. Fourth on that list was the Kansas City Chiefs who had a record of 12-4.

They stand out because even though they were fourth they made the most of their opportunities by having the highest touchdown percentage while in the red zone. Of their 179 plays in the red zone they scored 51 touchdowns for a touchdown percentage of 28.5%. At the other end of the spectrum, ranked 32nd in the league with a touchdown percentage of 12%, the 49ers.

Things weren’t all bad last season as the 49ers ranked ninth in total plays in the red zone; they created the opportunities, they just couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone. The 49ers were second in the NFL in field goal percentage in the red zone but when everyone else is scoring touchdowns and you are settling for field goals, you end up 4-12.

It goes without saying the 49ers must be better in the red zone this season if they are going to compete. But I am going to say it anyway: the 49ers must be better this season in the red zone if they are going to compete.

There was some good news from Wednesday’s practice as it was reported Jimmy Garoppolo threw four straight touchdown passes in the red zone. Both George Kittle and Trent Taylor were on the receiving end of those touchdowns with two apiece. Yes, the offense was not facing the starting defensive line, but hey, I’ll take any good news in the red zone.

With Taylor back from his back injury, the breakout of Kittle, and Garoppolo back from his ACL tear, one would hope the 49ers are better in the red zone in 2019. The 49ers also signed Tevin Coleman hoping to bring some consistency to a backfield that felt like a revolving door last season. We all knew injuries was the biggest storyline in 2018 and it showed in the red zone; it’s time to tell a different story in 2019.

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